Germany crash out of World Cup despite win over Costa Rica

A tense match, full of drama, saw Germany take a lead over Costa Rica [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Four-time champions eliminated for a second straight World Cup in the group stage.

Four-time champions Germany have crashed out of the football World Cup in Qatar in the group stage, despite a 4-2 victory over Costa Rica.

The elimination on Thursday came as Japan stunned Spain 2-1 in the other Group E match, a result that handed those two teams a spot in the Round of 16.

Germany and Spain both took early leads in their games, results which would have put Hansi Flick’s side through. But it all changed in the second half, with Japan scoring two quick goals against the Spaniards.

Costa Rica also equalised against Germany who then hit the post three times before Juan Vargas put the Central Americans ahead.

That would have put Costa Rica through at the expense of Spain but substitute Kai Havertz scored twice and Niclas Fullkrug got another.

It is the second World Cup in a row where Germany have been eliminated in the group stage. Germany finished third in the Group E standings, behind Spain on goal difference, with Japan top following their 2-1 win over the Spaniards. The result left Japan facing Croatia in the last 16, while Spain will take on Morocco.

Thursday’s game was also historic as it was the first men’s World Cup game to be refereed by a woman. Three of the four match officials – France’s Stephanie Frappart, Brazil’s Neuza Back and Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina – were women.

“In the first half I was disappointed and very angry at my team and how we allowed the opponent to come back,” said Germany coach Hansi Flick.

“We wanted to score three or four goals in the first half, but then we made mistakes. If we had converted those chances, 16 of them. But the tournament was not decided today for us. We did not have any efficiency at this tournament and that is why we were eliminated.”

Costa Rica
Costa Rica fans had a lot to cheer during this match, but were ultimately disappointed [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Germany were teetering on the brink of elimination going into the game after losing their opening group match to Japan and then snatching a 1-1 draw against Spain.

Needing only victory to avoid a repeat of their shock 2018 World Cup first round exit, Germany, with seven Bayern Munich players in their line-up, charged forward from the start in search of an early goal to settle their nerves.

Jamal Musiala cut from left into the box and tested keeper Keylor Navas with a low drive in the second minute.

It was one-way traffic initially and unmarked Thomas Mueller should have done much better when he was picked out by Joshua Kimmich but could not keep his header on target.

Gnabry, however, scored with his glancing header in the 10th minute to put Germany in front.

Costa Rica, who required at least a point to have a chance to progress, rarely crossed into the German half, with only about 25 percent possession in the first 45 minutes.

Germany were eager to make amends for their bad tournament start, with teenager Musiala repeatedly taking on the entire Costa Rican defence.

The chances kept coming – but the Germans, as in the game against Japan, struggled to convert them.

Costa Rica scores their second goal
Costa Rica players celebrate going up front, but their joy was short-lived [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

They were almost punished when Keysher Fuller benefitted from a double defensive blunder but his shot was tipped over the bar by Neuer, whose 19th appearance at the tournament was a World Cup record for goalkeepers.

With the group standings flashing up on the big screen of Al Bayt Stadium, Germany grew nervous with Musiala twice hitting the post early in the second half.

Neuer, however, could do nothing 13 minutes after the restart when Tejeda thundered the ball past him on the rebound after he had first saved a Kendall Waston header.

Juan Pablo Vargas then appeared to have bundled the ball over the line in the 70th minute to put Costa Rica in front but the effort was later credited as a Neuer own goal.

Substitute Havertz scored twice in 12 minutes and Fuellkrug added another in stoppage time but ultimately it was too little too late with Spain advancing with a superior goal difference.

Players shaking hands with officials
The final whistle by referee Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to officiate a men’s World Cup match, found both teams eliminated [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]


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